It is safe to use tap water for cooking and making tea or coffee in Bangkok, although not necessarily everywhere in Thailand. It is also easy to get drinking water delivered to your home or to get purified water in every neighborhood at vending machine type pumps. Some apartment buildings also have 18 liter water bottles in storage that you can get delivered to your apartment. You need to buy a dispenser for these large bottles. The dispensers usually cool the water and some have hot and cold water functions.
Bangkok has a number of world class medical facilities and it is easy to find doctors that have been trained in the US or UK. We encourage you to speak to staff that have been living in Thailand for a while to find a doctor that you will be comfortable with. While some prefer to use only the international accredited hospitals, others also recommend small clinics in their neighborhood that are often more convenient and can be just as good.
During your orientation program you will be taken to Praram 9 hospital for a medical check up because we need a medical certificate for your work permit. At that time you will receive a card with your hospital number and many teachers continue to use Praram 9 for routine medical check ups and as a substitute for their “family doctor”. It is not far and easy to get to from KIS.
Asking for local or Asian brands when buying medicine may save you a lot of money as the international known brands are often several times more expensive than locally produced medicine that may have a different name but contain the same ingredients. Many prescription medications from home are available over the counter here, this can be good in emergencies but don’t fall into the trap of being your own doctor!
Check with your doctor before you come if you are on medication for availability here in Bangkok and also regarding vaccinations. Although vaccinations are not required for the city or for school if you wish to travel into remote areas you might want to check the requirements.
Dental work is relatively cheap in Thailand compared to the in the west. The major hospitals listed above all have dental clinics. It is possible to “walk off the street” and see a doctor fairly quickly in the hospitals. However, booking ahead is advised for a dentist.
Staying Healthy-Some do’s and don’t s
If you have never lived in another country before, it’s probably better to be cautious, at least while you’re settling in:
- Drink boiled or bottled water when you first arrive. Although tap water is safe when it leaves the treatment plant, it can become contaminated by leaks in the pipes. Bottled water can be easily delivered to your home.
- It can become very hot in Thailand (especially in April – the hottest month), and it’s easy to become dehydrated. Parents and children need to drink water regularly.
- Tap water in Bangkok has low fluoride content. Some bottled waters may have added fluoride, but many do not. Consult with your dentist about the appropriate fluoride treatment for your children .
- Wash fruit and vegetables well. Consider soaking in a pesticide removing detergent.
- If eating from a roadside stall, check the food is fresh and well cooked.
- Many people live in Bangkok without ever seeing a snake, but they are common in some Moobaans (compounds with houses and gardens). Most are harmless, but some are poisonous. Teach your children to be careful when they play outside and use your common sense .
- If it is possible, have a pest control company visit your home each month. This will also help keep cockroaches at bay.
- Mosquito borne illnesses in Thailand include Malaria, Japanese Encephalitis, the Zika virus and Dengue Fever. Thailand has both day (Aedes Aegypti, which carries the Dengue Fever virus) and night (Plasmodium species) biting mosquitoes. The best prevention for all of these is to wear light, long clothes and socks or to use mosquito repellents (such as DEET) on bare skin, especially at night or when near rivers, lakes or the coast. Use bed nets if necessary. Do not allow water to collect around your home, as stagnant water (water storage jars, flowerpots etc) is a favourite breeding ground of mosquitoes. Spraying of certain parts of Bangkok (and of Bangkok Patana) to reduce mosquito populations is done, particularly during the rainy season.
- Malaria is rare in Bangkok, but more common in the country side, so you may need to consider taking preventive antimalarials if traveling to certain areas. Consult your doctor about these, as the recommended drugs change frequently.
- Dengue fever is becoming more of a concern in Thailand and there have been outbreaks in Bangkok. The number of cases has grown in the last 20 years, and tends to peak in June and July. Since it is carried by a day-time biting mosquito, it is important to take preventive measures, particularly in the early morning or late evening. The symptoms of Dengue Fever vary from mild to severe and include fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, rash, nausea and vomiting. There is no vaccine to prevent Dengue Fever and no specific treatment once infected. Avoid aspirin as this may increase the risk of bleeding. Medical attention should be sought if you suspect infection. Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (sometimes associated with bleeding into the skin) may require hospital admission.
- Running around in bare feet is not advised. Apart from the obvious risks of foot injuries, there are still some risks such as Leptospirosis (from rat urine) and, in rural areas, parasites such as hookworms. If you have walked through flood water you should thoroughly wash all feet and skin that has had direct contact with water.